Pro wrestling is a mix of athletics and acting. The matches may be scripted, but the physicality is still real in many ways. However, in pro wrestling, the performers also have to take on personas and do some form of acting. Many wrestlers end up taking the acting into realms beyond the squared circle. Dozens of wrestlers have acted in movies and films. Some have found success, others were maybe better off sticking to the staged fighting. Here’s a list of wrestlers who took a chance in the world of acting and made a splash, good or bad. Also, for the sake of ease, we are using the names they are known as in their wrestling careers. No need to break kayfabe.
When Johnson began acting, he was billed as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to build on the success he had as a wrestler. Now? Johnson doesn’t need the help. He’s maybe the biggest movie star in the world. He makes action films like those in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise and has the family-friendly blockbusters in the “Jumanji” series. Oh, and his own TV show about his life, “Young Rock.”
Hogan was one of the first wrestlers to truly crossover into being a superstar. Now, were his movies all that good? Do you have fond feelings about “Mr. Nanny,” “Suburban Commando,” or “Santa with Muscles?” Perhaps not, but the fact remains the Hulkster was the legit lead in major motion picture releases.
We owe it to the power of Marvel that they managed to turn the Guardians of the Galaxy into popular characters that could make huge money at the box office. In the mix for the Guardians is Bautista, who dropped the “u” in his wrestling days to go as Batista. The big man is best known as Drax, but he’s also in the upcoming “Dune” movie.
Wrestlers becoming action stars is maybe not that big of a surprise. After all, many of them are huge dudes with muscles. Cena has done action films to be sure, but he’s been surprisingly successful in comedy. He’ll be combining action and comedy with his upcoming role in the soft reboot of “The Suicide Squad,” which should take him to a whole new level.
Andre was, well, giant, which certainly was considered when it came to casting the massive man in a movie. He’s mostly known for playing Fezzik in the beloved “The Princess Bride.” Unfortunately, by that point in his life Andre was dealing with so much pain he couldn’t even carry Robin Wright.
What has been the biggest TV show in the last few years? You could argue it’s “The Mandalorian.” All the Baby Yoda memes would seem to agree. It’s her only acting role outside of the world of wrestling thus far, but the fact that Banks played Koska Reeves in “The Mandalorian” means she got seen by more viewers than most wrestlers ever will.
In Nash’s first acting role, he was hired solely for his size. The big man also known in wrestling as Diesel (and Vinnie Vegas) played Super Shredder in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret of the Ooze.” Then, he got a chance to do some actual acting, including in “Magic Mike” and “John Wick.”
We could talk about “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s turn in “Hell Comes to Frogtown,” but that would only be to mention the fact that there’s a movie called “Hell Comes to Frogtown” that exists. In truth, though, people primarily remember Piper’s acting from his starring role in John Carpenter’s “They Live.”
Steele played a wild man in his wrestling career, including eating turnbuckles. That was just a gimmick, of course. Steele also did some acting, and he’s best known for playing a real person, Tor Johnson, in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood.”
Mike Mizanin, aka “The Miz,” had a degree of fame before he even became a pro wrestler. He was first introduced to many people when he was on “Real World” and then “The Challenge.” His acting career admittedly is mostly limited to cameos as himself and direct-to-video films, but he’s still starred in four movies in “The Marine” series.
In “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s most famous role, he didn’t have to stretch once. We all remember his turn as Bonesaw McGraw in “Spider-Man,” right? You know, the guy that wrestlers Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker when Peter is first discovering his new superpowers. He really made Bonesaw pop in his couple of minutes on the screen.
WWE decided they wanted to make films, which made it just a bit easier for some of their wrestlers to get acting roles. Glen Jacobs, known best as Kane but always Isaac Yankem, DDS in our hearts, was able to star in two horror films from WWE Studios, “See No Evil” and its sequel. Oh, and he was also in “MacGruber.”
“The Body” is maybe as well-known for his conspiracy cities and his time as the Governor of Minnesota these days, but he did some acting as well. In fact, Ventura is in one of the seminal action films of all time. His debut movie was none other than “Predator,” where he appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Our personal favorite acting turn by the former Hunter Hearst Helmsley? That would be his portrayal of the wrestler “The Disciplinarian” on “The Drew Carey Show.” He also played himself in an episode of “Pacific Blue,” and has been in a few movies, the best-known of which is “Blade: Trinity.”
“Stone Cold” has built a second career for himself out of his redneck persona, but he’s done a bit of acting as well. A lot of his work has been in direct-to-video action flicks, but he’s also shown up in films like “The Longest Yard” remake and “Grown Ups 2.” Yes, those are both Adam Sandler movies.
Goldberg has been in eight episodes of the sitcom “The Goldbergs,” but weirdly his character’s name is Nick Mellor, not “Goldberg.” Interestingly, the Jewish wrestler also once played Santa Claus in the horror-comedy “Santa’s Slay.” Is it good? No, but that means two wrestlers (Goldberg and Hogan) have played ersatz Santas.
In wrestling, Edge was known for being able to do comedy (and actually be funny, a rare skill for a wrestler) or be serious. In the world of acting, he’s gone a little more the serious route. The man also known as Adam Copeland has been a straight-up cast member in two shows, “Haven” and “Vikings.” Once retired due to a neck injury, Edge has recently returned to the squared circle and won the 2021 Royal Rumble as well.
Jericho has a favorite pastime when he isn’t wrestling, and that’s making music. For years, he’s been the frontman of the metal band Fozzy. That being said, he’s done some acting as well. He has a role in “MacGruber,” and he also is one of many famous faces you can see in a “Sharknado” film, in his case the third one.
Lou Albano was always Lou Albano, even when he was acting. Yes, even when he was playing Mario in the kids’ show where he played the most famous plumber to ever live. There was also something inextricably “Captain Lou” about him. Oh, and let’s not forget the “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” video, either.
Keibler’s time in wrestling came when women’s wrestling was particularly underserved. The women being hired were primarily former models who were looking for a new career, and that career was often seen as a transition to acting (or at least a “Playboy” spread). Keibler, who was once on “Dancing with the Stars,” has done a bit of television work in shows like “Chuck” and “Psych.”
Paul Wight is a massive man, so there are only so many roles that he can theoretically service. And yet, he has shown a legitimate skill in the world of comedy, including being quite funny in a cameo the first time Dwayne Johnson hosted “Saturday Night Live.” He’s starred in his own comedy movie (“Knucklehead”) and also had his own sitcom, fitting titled “The Big Show Show.”
The Heartbreak Kid is one of a few wrestlers to appear on “Pacific Blue,” a show that aired on USA alongside “Monday Night RAW.” A religious man, Michaels has also appeared in some religious works, including the movie “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.”
Standing legitimately over seven feet tall, The Great Khali was not what you would call a “good” wrestler. Big? You bet, but his athleticism was a bit lackluster. That doesn’t matter in acting, though. Although, he also struggled on that front. He was pretty much just hired for his size in “Get Smart” and “MacGruber.” However, maybe he has been better in the Bollywood movies he’s appeared in.
DDP’s primary output after retiring from wrestling has been yoga. In fact, his yoga and wellness work has helped rehabilitate several former wrestlers, including Jake “The Snake” Roberts. That being said, he’s done a bit of acting. Apparently, he had a deleted scene in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” but he’s definitely in “The Devil’s Rejects” and a few others.
We’re going old school here. Montana began acting way back in the 1950s and continued wrestling into the ‘60s. This was when wrestling was a regional attraction, and Montana’s biggest success was found in Georgia, where he won some NWA titles. We had to include him on this list, though, because Montana is best known for playing Luca Brasi in “The Godfather.”
When The Undertaker debuted, he was, according to his gimmick, a dead man risen from the grave. He got his power from an urn. Somehow, he became one of the most successful wrestlers ever. Also, one time his gimmick became he was a biker guy. As an actor, he’s mostly played himself, which is to say The Undertaker, but he is in “Suburban Commando” and two episodes of a “Poltergeist” TV show.
Morrison can be seen hanging out with The Miz these days, and he also has a history of some acting roles but also some reality TV work. However, Morrison was already famous for being a wrestler when he appeared on the 37th season of “Survivor.” He’s appeared in a few comedies, a “Sharknado” sequel, and also has a small role in “Birds of Prey.”
Torres was quite successful during the “Divas” era of WWE, but since leaving wrestling behind she’s done a bit of acting. She actually appears in “The Scorpion King 4,” following in The Rock’s footsteps, and also played Maxima in an episode of “Supergirl.”
After a life of crime as a teenager landed him in prison until he turned 25, Jones emerged and decided to give wrestling a try. Many say he wasn’t particularly good in the squared circle, but perhaps acting will serve him better. He definitely stood out as Rictus Erectus in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and also can be seen in the recent “Mortal Kombat” movie.
Kanellis’ first appearance on TV was in the reality show “Outback Jack,” a Down Under-flavored ripoff of “The Bachelor.” Professional wrestling was definitely a step up from that. Kanellis tried her hand at singing, and made a “Playboy” appearance, but has also done a bit of acting. She’s in a Christmas movie with Ed Asner!
The daughter of a wrestling legend, she is perhaps not a lifer like her father Ric, who basically got into wrestling and stayed there. That being said, the championship-hoarding wrestling has only acted once so far, making an appearance in “Psych: The Movie” for the USA Network.
Do you know what movie is pretty good even if you don’t like wrestling? “Fighting with My Family,” the story of pro wrestler Paige’s journey to becoming a WWE champion. Florence Pugh plays Paige. In the big climax, Paige faces AJ Lee. Lee was no longer employed by WWE, so Vega stepped in to portray Lee in the movie. Now, Vega herself is no longer with WWE either.
Orton comes from wrestling royalty, and when he won the WWE World Championship at 24 he was the youngest to ever do it. Still, he’s found some time for acting as well. He’s mostly just in generic action movies, including “12 Rounds 2,” where he stepped into John Cena’s shoes.
A martial artist before getting into wrestling, Miller only really has one notable role. That being said, he’s genuinely really good in “The Wrestler,” a movie that probably really resonated with Miller. He plays the Ayatollah, who faces Mickey Rourke’s character in the culmination of the movie, and it showed he has the chops to act, and not just in a wrestling movie.
Jarrett is Southern-fried to the core, from his initial WWF character “Double J” to his actual life. As such, it’s not surprising he turned up on two episodes of “Blue Collar TV.” He also surprisingly turned up in the lurid “Spring Breakers” as a youth pastor.
Ziggler definitely has interests outside of wrestling, though he’s mostly tried his hand at standup comedy. He’s even had some success in that realm. Including in the action film “Countdown” and an episode of “Adam Ruins Everything.”
Reigns could be the next big acting star to come out of wrestling. That’s because his one notable role was in a pretty significant film. You can catch Reigns in “Hobbs & Shaw,” where he does the action movie thing alongside Dwayne Johnson.
The late Joanie Laurer was a trailblazer when it comes to women in wrestling. In the world of TV, she had a brief turn in “3rd Rock from the Sun” as a love interest for Harry. Notably, she also tried her hand at improv comedy on “Whose Line is It Anyway?.”
Stratus was one of the biggest stars in WWE in her time, which came after she gained the attention of Vince McMahon as a fitness model. She’s kept herself busy with a yoga studio after retiring, but she also did some TV hosting and a bit of acting. Stratus has been in two movies: “Bail Enforcers” and “Gridlocked.”
The Bella twins are legitimate reality TV stars. They got a spinoff of WWE’s “Total Divas” called “Total Bellas,” which honestly involves some acting. The sisters were in an episode of “Psych,” and also appeared as Nikki and Brie Boulder in an animated movie that saw “The Flintstones” cross over with WWE.
Sgt. Slaughter is both a professional wrestler and a G.I. Joe, which is not something anybody else can say. He’s done a bit of acting too, mostly in the world of voiceover. You can catch his voice in the cartoons “Code Monkeys” and “Teen Titans Go!.”
Hall, aka Razor Ramon, only has one notable acting role. He is in the Insane Clown Posse film “Big Money Rustlas.” So, there’s that. Also, he was on an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show.” What a career!
In wrestling, The Hitman was the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. In acting, not so much. He did get to play himself on “The Simpsons,” which is the dream of millions of people. Hart did some other voiceover roles as well. Then, the Hitman did some work on “MADtv,” which led to an angle in WCW where he fought Will Sasso. Yes, really.
Punk was a superstar in wrestling, but got tired of it and tried his hand at MMA. That didn’t work out great. Perhaps he will start doing more acting? He did act, admittedly as himself, in two episodes of “Maron.” Punk has also been in a few films, including 2021’s “Jakob’s Wife.”
“The Snake” was a big wrestling star, but issues with drug and alcohol abuse almost claimed his life. Fortunately, it did not, and there are multiple documentaries about that. In terms of acting, he’s been in an episode of “Boy Meets World,” some movie called “The Bet,” and he’s also in “Peanut Butter Falcon.”
Sable was used primarily as eye candy in her WWE days, though in the Attitude Era it meant she got to be champion once even though she wasn’t the best wrestler. She notably appeared in “Playboy” a whopping three times. Sable was in “Pacific Blue,” naturally, but you can also catch her in a small role in the film “Corky Romano” as well.
We mentioned “The Nature Boy” has spent decades in wrestling. Despite his charisma, he didn’t try and become an acting star-like Hulk Hogan. You’ve maybe heard his voice in “Uncle Grandpa” or seen him in an old episode of “Baywatch.” Flair is also in the movie “Magic Mike XXL,” which marked his film debut well into his career.
No, Bundy is not in any of the “King Kong” movies. However, he did appear in three different TV shows. Bundy showed up in “Boy Meets World” and “Weird Science” as himself, and he actually had two different roles on “Married…with Children.” Once he played himself, naturally, but the other time he played Uncle Irwin.